Collier Schorr

1963 | New York, United States

American photographer.

After studying at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Collier Schorr broke into the art scene in the 1990s at a turning point, as photography was becoming the dominant medium, making its voice heard on the fringes of the traditional channels through magazines and fashion, under the aegis of a new generation of critics and artists haunted by the spectre of youth.
A contributor to a number of magazines (Purple, Frieze, Dazed and Confused), she was instrumental in renewing the timeworn iconography of adolescence, producing several portrait series bordering between documentary realism and fiction or between personal and social or historical representation. Often classed as conceptual, her works evoke the war culture, violence and nationalist fantasies: for her Neue Soldatten project in 1998, she juxtaposed genuine documents from the Swedish Army and pictures of pretend soldiers, played by German teenagers; the same young men were to reappear in 2001 in Forests and Fields, adorned this time in the uniforms of the Israeli, American and Weimar armies. These different devices involving the falsification or misappropriation of military references challenge above all their implementation through images and sexuality, and the way they condition identity formation.

The most striking element of these pictures is the strange rapport between the artist and the subjects of her photographs – or those that emerge from her imagination. “I use the spirit of a girl to create a boy’s world. I don’t really know what it means to be a man so I portray them with a degree of gentleness, a kind of androgyny”, she says, explaining how her images deconstruct the so-called ownership of body, gender or imagination.
A more recent project, There I was (2007-2008), encapsulates the American imagination, the true-false biography of a teenager called Charlie Snyder, who was photographed by Schorr’s own father in 1967 for a car magazine just before he was killed in Vietnam. From this indirectly autobiographical standpoint, C. Schorr has assembled a variety of elements (drawings, documents in display cabinets, photographs) to produce a kind of neo-conceptual memorial to a little-known, now deceased soldier.
By means of this minutely dramatised ensemble, she is scrutinising war culture in the United States, inextricably linked to the way images are manufactured and industrialised.

Sylvie Moisdon

Translated from the French by Caroline Taylor-Bouché.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque © Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
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